I have been away from the computer most of the day, so am only now getting to post about the terrific pro-Palestine action which took this morning in Melbourne against war profiteer, Elbit Systems. Elbit Systems is the Israeli weapons manufacturer whose drones have been used in Gaza to kill hundreds of unarmed and defenseless Palestinian men, women and children. Earlier this week, Israel's Occupation Forces praised Elbit's drones (unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs) "for delivering added operational value in recent combat in Gaza".
According to Bloomberg's financial press, the Israeli based Elbit Systems share price has increase 6.1 percent to $63.01 since Israel began its murderous assault on Gaza, which has resulted in more than 2000 Palestinians killed, the majority (more than 80%) civilians, including almost 470 children.
The action this morning was organised by the Melbourne Palestine Action Group, which is made up of activists from the Whistleblower, Activist and Citzens Alliance and Renegade Activists. The activists successfully locked down Elbit for approximately 5 hours.
Nina Bassat, the president of The Jewish Community Council of Victoria, ignoring the aggressive mass murder carried out by the Israeli state using Elbit's drones in Gaza, accused the activists of "aggressive behaviour", saying: “This accentuates the difference between the sides in this conflict. The Jews in our community pray for peace and the Palestinian supporters express aggressive behaviour.” Bassat comments come as the Zionist community organisations in Victoria and New South Wales prepare to host Israeli Foreign Minister, anti-Arab racist and cheerleader fro Israel's war crimes in Gaza, Avigdor Lieberman, in less than ten days.
Lieberman has been quoted as saying the devastation caused by Israel in Gaza, which has left almost 250,000 displaced and destroyed 10,000 homes leaving almost 70,000 homeless was a "good thing". Lieberman in the past has also called for the execution of Palestinian of the Knesset and for genocide to be enacted against the Palestinians. Melbourne activists from Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid and Students for Palestine are currently organising a peaceful community picket to oppose Lieberman's visit to Australia.
I have included photos taken by members of the MPAG that was posted to twitter and faceook. I have also included a very short video shot by my friend, Jacob Grech, a long time anti-war activist, who is a member of Renegade Activists.
I have included two media reports on the action below. Other media reports on the action (with video) can be accessed here:
Channel 7 (includes video)
Herald Sun (with video from Channel 10)
In solidarity, Kim
*Please note the article below gets the name of the WACA wrong - WACA is the Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance.
By Rowena Dela Rosa Yoon Asian Correspondent: Aug 15, 2014
Named the Melbourne Palestine Action Coalition (MPAC), it consists of activists from Whistleblowers Australian Citizens Alliance (WACA) and renegade activists. The protesters occupied the roof of Elbit Systems and blockaded the front gate.
WACA’s Spokesperson Sam Castro said, “We are here today to call on the Australian Government to end military trade deals with Israel and cancel all domestic contracts with Elbit Systems.”
The activists blasted Elbit Systems as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of unmanned aerial drones used by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in their ongoing offensive in Gaza. It accused the company to have “profited over the month-long attack with their share prices rising by 6.1% in July.”
Elbit is Israel’s largest military company which sells its drones around the world as ‘field tested’. According to the group, they have been tested on the Palestinian population under Israel’s illegal military occupation. Elbit provides services and technology to the Israeli army including surveillance equipment and drones.
There is evidence documented by various human rights groups, that drones are used to kill innocent civilians in Gaza. Al Mezan Centre, a Palestinian human rights organization, attributes the killing of more than 1,000 Palestinian in Gaza between 2000-2010 by drones, the group claims.
MPAC also accused the Australian Federal Police of spending $145 million for a computer policing system supplied by Elbit Australia after being tried and tested in the Palestinian Occupied Territories in 2010.
With front gate locked up, the activists scaled the wall of the company, then dropped a nine meter banner, reading ‘Elbit Drones Kill Kids In Gaza #BDS’ – a replication of the Israeli Government’s apartheid wall.
They said Israel’s ability to launch devastating attacks with impunity largely stems from the vast international military cooperation and trade that it maintains with complicit governments across the world.
The group said it is shocking to know the fact that Melbourne is one of the most livable cities in the world, yet there is a company making drones near the city. Drones that kill women and children are manufactured in the leafy suburb of Port Melbourne, they said.
By importing and exporting arms to Israel and facilitating the development of Israeli military technology, governments are effectively sending a clear message of approval for Israel’s military aggression, including its war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.The WACA Spokesperson Sam Castro further said, “This is just the beginning of a global campaign to stop the war profiteering of private corporations off the people of Palestine and others around the world.”
The protesters entered the premises of Elbit Systems at Port Melbourne about 5.30am on Friday, unfurling a banner on the roof that read “Elbit drones kill kids in Gaza #BDS”.
The protesters were heard to chant “free, free Palestine”, while protesters on the ground held a sign that read: “We don’t want your dirty wars”. A fake separation wall, to represent the Israeli-built wall in Gaza, was erected, while four D-locks were placed on the company’s gates.
Victoria police said officers were deployed to monitor about 20 protesters in total, with the seven people on the roof arrested and then released with a court summons for trespass.
Elbit Systems makes a variety of aerospace, land and naval systems for the military. Its Australian division is primarily focused on the Australian Defence Force (ADF) but pro-Palestinian groups say the wider company is linked to the manufacture of drones used in the Gaza conflict.
The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) praised Elbit’s technology during its recent incursion into the Gaza strip, which has left more than 1,600 Palestinians dead. The company’s Skylark unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, have been described as a “real asset” by the IDF due to their ability to gather intelligence on targets for the military.
Sam Castro, of the Melbourne Palestine Action Group, a coalition of three groups behind the protest, said Elbit will be continually targeted by protesters.
“This draws attention to the fact the Australian government has complicity in the killing of children in Gaza by allowing a war profiteer to operate in our city,” she told Guardian Australia.
“This is a private company making money out of death machinery which is killing children in Gaza. We are linking up with protesters around the world to keep targeting Elbit because it is not welcome in our country.”
Elbit had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication. Nina Bassat, the president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria told JWire the protest “accentuates the difference between the sides in this conflict. The Jews in our community pray for peace and the Palestinian supporters express aggressive behaviour.”
Castro said the protesters were committed to non-violence and that the Jewish community “doesn’t realise the Israeli government has gone rogue”.